Friends since the early 1960s, Gale Banks and Bruce Geisler had teamed up on some of the most famous and significant automotive performance records in history. One of their fondest collaborations was the Geisler-Banks 1953 Studebaker, a vehicle that they ran together multiple times with several different engine configurations. In 1978, Banks built a 955-hp twin-turbocharged, 304 ci small-block Chevy engine that helped propel the vintage car driven by Gary Vail to 217 mph at Bonneville, making the Studebaker the world’s fastest, stock-bodied passenger vehicle on gasoline.
The car was later retired the following year (for the time being anyway) after running speed of 220 mph. That year the car was pushed to its limits and began to spin exiting the timers. After eight loops the driver, Don Stringfellow, brought the car to a safe stop and emerged unscathed. The Banks racing team had already started working on another program at that time, so their full attention was turned to the Pontiac Firebird project… a car that would become the next World’s Fastest Passenger Cars.